Murder charge for eight-year-old boy in Birmingham creates legal silence

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WHNT) – Police say 26-year-old Katerra Lewis is charged with manslaughter in the death of her daughter, Kelci Lewis.

Police say there were several children left in the home alone while Lewis and a friend went to a nightclub on October 11.

Police say an eight-year old is responsible for killing the one-year old.

Everything about the case that started here is uniquely horrifying.

Attorney Ron Smith acknowledges, “It’s very unusual to see somebody that young charged with such a violent type of crime. I think the youngest child I’ve had was nine years old.”

The child accused of killing the one-year old must be charged as a juvenile because of his age.

Smith explains, “A juvenile who is sixteen years or older can be tried as an adult automatically, if it’s a murder, violent assault, certain types of offenses. If you’re fourteen or older, there has to be a hearing. It’s called a transfer hearing.”

But the boy accused of this crime is only eight. There’s no such recourse.

Though Smith notes there are some similarities to adult court, “They may do a mental evaluation on him. They do those in juvenile court, just like they do in an adult court. If he’s got some mental issue, they could refer him to Department of Mental Health.”

However, while the criminal process for the mother will be public, we’ll know very little about the fate of the accused eight-year old.

“All of those records are under seal,” Smith says, “Without a court order, you’re not going to be able to get to them.”